Monday, October 11, 2010

NESV Threaten To Walk Away From Purchase If Club Are Docked Points

New England Sports Ventures positioned itself to renegotiate its proposed £300 million purchase of Liverpool over the weekend, threatening to walk away if the club were docked nine points as a result of administration.

Having indicated on Friday that, as the threat of administration was considered remote, NESV remained committed to the deal regardless, the syndicate’s view hardened considerably over the weekend.

Liverpool chairman Martin Broughton is seeking High Court approval for the sale to NESV against the wishes of owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett, with a hearing expected to take place on Tuesday. There were suggestions last night that the club were considering an approach for representation to Lord Grabiner QC, a company disputes specialist.

If the court endorses Broughton’s right to sell the club, NESV will go through with the deal agreed last week. Should the court rule against the chairman, however, administration is a genuine possibility, and NESV now regards it as a deal-breaker and will consider walking away entirely if the club is docked nine points.

NESV is understood to have secured a clause in the deal signed with Broughton in the early hours of Wednesday allowing it to renegotiate the price in the event of administration. Broughton warned on Friday that administration “would impact on Liverpool’s value and [leave it] wide open to predators”.

NESV’s change in position comes after the Premier League told the club board that a nine-point deduction was a “significant risk” even if the administration occurred at Liverpool’s holding company Kop Football (Holdings) Ltd.

Royal Bank of Scotland, whose £237 million loans to Hicks and Gillett via Kop Holdings becomes due on Friday, has indicated that if the court rules against Broughton it might be forced put the company into administration to effect a change of control. NESV’s threat to walk away came as a surprise to RBS and the club board, and was interpreted by several sources close to the negotiations as a positioning exercise. It is also evidence of a marked deterioration in relations between John W Henry’s group, the club board and RBS.

Henry and his advisers are understood to have become frustrated at last week’s events. As late as Monday they believed that they were the only serious bidders for the club, only to be told on Tuesday that they were one of two, with the other emanating from Asia. They also believed that Broughton had clear authority to sell the club and were surprised at the legal challenge from Hicks and Gillett.

They increased their offer to secure preferred bidder status, but an apparent lack of clarity over the threat of administration and the likely Premier League sanctions have tested their patience.

Despite having opened negotiations with Broughton and RBS in mid-August, and begun due diligence two weeks ago, the threat of administration and a points deduction appears to have surprised Henry and his advisers.

RBS has been closely involved in the negotiations with NESV and the club board, and its stance should not have come as a surprise. For several weeks the bank and the board have privately indicated that administration of Kop Holdings was considered ‘Plan B’ if a sale could not be agreed.

The Premier League, meanwhile, insists that it gave the Liverpool board guidance on the risk of a points sanction last Tuesday, but that it did not differ from that given to all clubs at the start of the season.

Liverpool managing director Christian Purslow said on Sunday that he was confident a deal would go through. “I’m completely focused on making sure the sale completes. I’m not contemplating administ-ration and nobody should be,” he said, less than 48 hours after Broughton said it could not be ruled out.

“NESV approached us. They met our chairman. He was immediately struck with their seriousness and the entire senior management team of NESV came to Liverpool. They spent a large amount of time in the club doing their work.”

Dalglish Warns Potential Owners Of Expectations

Liverpool legend Kenny Dalglish has warned Liverpool's potential new owners that their task of rebuilding fans' faith in the club's hierarchy will be tough.

The Merseyside club are subject to a take-over saga with New England Sports Ventures attempting to buy out current Anfield co-owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett.

But it's Hicks and Gillett's time at Liverpool, which has been shrouded with ill-feeling since their arrival in 2007, that has seen the club saddled with unmanageable debts.

And now, a High Court battle is the last resort the current owners have taken to keep control of the club, which has only added to the animosity.

Dalglish, in particular, has been saddened with the events surrounding the club, and is desperate to see a conclusion.

The former Scotland international, who has been reported to be a possible replacement for under-fire Reds manager Roy Hodgson, said in his column in the Daily Mail: "These have been depressing times at Anfield.

"It is never nice when your football club are making as many headlines on the front pages as the back.

"This week looks set to be huge for Liverpool but there is still a feeling of uncertainty because nobody can guarantee what is going to happen next.

"I feel particularly for the fans, who must find it difficult to know which way to turn. I am sure the majority of them are quite happy that the club might be sold but what they really want is to see Liverpool move onwards and upwards from here.

"Let's hope we can and that things work out. Liverpool is usually a glass half-full kind of city, and The Kop are renowned throughout the world for their humour and spirit."

Dalglish added: "It is essential for any potential new owners to assure the supporters they have a long-term plan for the club that will see the club's debt problem resolved, investment made for new players and a solution found where Liverpool's match-day revenues increase either at an enlarged Anfield or a new stadium.

"Fans stop me in the street and ask me what is going to happen. I can't give them a precise answer but I do know this club's DNA will ensure they survive and are successful in the future.

"Just don't expect the scepticism from supporters to disappear overnight, not after the journey they've been on."

Why Liverpool Fans Shouldn’t Fear Administration

The word administration will universally strike fear in football fans. Points deductions and a mass exodus of players is something that will normally follow after a club slips in to administration, however I am certain Liverpool won’t have to suffer the costs of the dreaded A word.

British newspapers are today reporting that Liverpool slipping in to administration will mean the collapse of the NESV takeover. However I can’t see why Liverpool’s finances will collapse in that way.

If the High Court rules that the NESV takeover cannot be completed, then it will be down to the Royal Bank of Scotland to decide the clubs fate. Their options would then be, to call in the massive debt, and effectively repossess the club, or to extend the time given to Tom Hicks and George Gillett to repay the loans.

The later of the two options seems highly unlikely given the duos past record of paying their debts. So what would happen if the club was to be repossessed?

In this case the Bank of Scotland could appoint an administrator, however it would seem pure madness to do so when there is a party who is actively looking to buy the club. The most sensible solution would appear to be for NESV to simply clear the clubs debt with RBS and therefore takeover the club.

So Liverpool fans shouldn’t be alarmed by the murmurs of administration because it would be a move that wouldn’t suit any party. As long as there is interest in the club, Liverpool will not be going in to administration. With a club of Liverpool’s history and prowess, there will always be interest.

Yes this is all speculation, and with the strange dealings that have gone at Liverpool during the past few weeks and months maybe we should expect the bizarre, but you have to feel that Anfield will be free of the burden of Hicks and Gillett in the not so distant future.

On a side note, Tom Hicks summed up his relationship with Liverpool fans by saying they “are a noise we are dealing with.” I think that says it all about this regime and the desperate need for change on Merseyside.

Liverpool Join Race To Sign £8m Rated Premier League Playmaker

Three clubs are reportedly interested in signing under-used Tottenham midfielder Niko Kranjcar. The Croatia ace is being linked with a move away from White Hart Lane after failing to start a club match this term. Sources in his home country believe Monaco and two un-named Premier League clubs have an interest in signing the 26-year-old.

The two unnamed Premier Leagues are rumoured to be Aston Villa and Liverpool and both sides would do well to snap up the White Hart Lane man who can’t seem to force his way into the Tottenham reckoning. Harry Redknapp is quite right to state that with Gareth Bale in incredible form the Croatian playmaker has less chance to get a first team start and at 26 he will not want to be wasting away on the bench.

Gerard Houllier is known to be an admirer of the former Portsmouth man and the Villa Park boss has been promised funds to invest in his squad in January and the Frenchman is looking to inject more creativity into his Aston Villa squad.

However, it is believed that £8m rated Kranjcar has a liking for Liverpool and may prefer a move to Merseyside but clearly such a move would depend greatly on what state the club is in come January and that also depends very much on whether the Tom Hicks and George Gillett would still be at the club by that time, which seems unlikely.

Roy Hodgson is desperately looking for players to help provide the cutting edge in the attacking third and he would dearly love to secure the signing of the Tottenham man who is an adaptable attacker who can play out wide or in an advanced midfield role.

A move to Monaco seems less likely given the poor start the club has made in Ligue 1 this term added to the fact that after four years in England Niko appears settled and feels the need to prove himself in the Premier League.

Liverpool Line Up Swoop For Reto Ziegler

Liverpool will face competition from several European clubs, but have their eye on Swiss left-back Reto Ziegler, who has just turned down a new deal with Sampdoria.

Liverpool was linked with Ziegler over the summer, but in the end Roy Hodgson brought Paul Konchesky to Anfield. Nonetheless, should Liverpool’s off-field problems be ironed out, Italian website Tuttomercato reports that Hodgson will renew his interest in Ziegler.

The 24-year-old has turned down the offer of a new deal at Sampdoria from the club’s director general Sergio Gasparin. Tuttomercato reports that Ziegler could leave the club as early as January, with Liverpool facing competition from Juventus, Hamburg and Zenit St Petersburg among others.

Zeigler is a quick and skillful player, who can fill a role as a left-winger as well as at left full-back. His versatility could well be an asset to Hodgson’s struggling Liverpool side.

He joined Tottenham as a teenager from Grasshoppers Zurich 2004 and impressed the White Hart Lane faithful with his neat, controlled football. However, he failed to command a regular place in the starting line-up at the North Londoners and moved on for first-team football.

Ziegler scored two goals for Sampdoria in 37 appearances last season.

Gerrard Hopes For Shelvey

Steven Gerrard feels England youth star Jonjo Shelvey has a big career ahead of him at Liverpool.

Shelvey arrived at Anfield in the summer from Charlton, but he has been limited to just one appearance in the League Cup since moving.

But Reds skipper Gerrard thinks he showed enough in the defeat against Northampton, to show he has huge potential.

"When Jonjo came on against Northampton I thought he did really well," Gerrard said on the club's official website.

"He put some dangerous balls into their box and just that piece of action will have done him the world of good as he moves forward.

"It'll give him the confidence to try and shift people from the first eleven.

"He is a talented player. He's still young and still a baby in football terms but if he keeps learning - not just from me but from everyone in the squad, people who are older than him and have been there and done it before - his game will continue to get better and better."

Pepe Reina Wants An End To The Takeover 'Chaos' At Liverpool

Liverpool's goalkeeper Pepe Reina wants a quick end to takeover talk surrounding the club as he feels it is a distracting the club and players.

The takeover crisis involves New England Sport Ventures (NESV) bidding £300 million to take over the club from current owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett. However, the American executives are involving the high court to try to prevent the sale of the club, as they feel it is invalid and undervaluing the club.

But the Spaniard understandably just wants to do the talking on the pitch.

"The only thing we can do is play football and the things that are going on around the club, the ownership situation and all that is out of our hands," the 28-year-old told reporters.

"It’s still too soon to talk about the takeover because there is still some chaos down there.

"I am worried. I am worried because of the situation of the club but I am optimistic and I think we are going to bounce back and be our best in a few months. At least that’s what I hope."

What is more worrying for Reina and everyone involved at the club is if Hicks and Gillett manage to block the sale of the team going through.

This would mean that the Royal Bank of Scotland - who Kop Holdings owe £237 million - could chase after the debt as soon as Friday, meaning that Liverpool would be put into administration and incur a nine point penalty in the process.

And Reina admits that this would be a mighty blow in what has already proved to be a hard start to the season.

"It would be a tough setback and a very difficult situation but I am optimistic that everything will be sorted out before that," he added.

"All that we can do now is hope and pray for a good finish and a very good ending.

"We could do nothing [so far] apart from winning games and that hasn’t been the case unfortunately."

The Madrid born star still believes that if the club did go into administration and incur the nine-point penalty, they would still have enough quality to avoid relegation, but conceded that securing a place in Europe would be very unlikely.

"I still believe that even with nine less points we will be able to stay in the Premier League but of course it will be no other target possible for us because with nine points less it’s going to be a tough, tough year.

"I don’t even want to think about that because we won’t be that bad and it won’t be like this."

It has been a difficult start to the season for the reds, having played both halves of Manchester and Arsenal, so Reina feels that a few victories in the coming matches can lift the team spirits.

"The team is good enough to start winning games. It’s a difficult situation but we have to stick together and work hard to try to turn it around."

Reina, who signed a six-year contract with Liverpool in April denied any rumours linking to other clubs, particularly after reported interest from Arsenal.

"The only thing I can do is play football and focus on Liverpool because I just signed a six-year contract," Reina said.

"It’s just because of the press. I don’t know anything else."

The goalkeeper also felt that his fellow compatriot Fernando Torres, who has struggled with form and injuries recently, would be back to his best before too long.

"Fernando is one of the best strikers in the world. As soon as he is fit once again, and he’s working on that, he will be shining once again for us."